Health Care & Role of Government

The NY Times has an interesting story on the possibility of health care for all Americans. It talks about just how close we [could be] to having universal health care. The most interesting quote from the article is:

“This isn’t communism. The changes could happen under a public health care system or one that is privately run.”

Since when did public health care equal communism?!?!?! What is so terrible about the government providing health care? Are the health care systems in nations where the government provides health care (e.g. Canada, some European nations) broken (or more broken than our privately run model)?

We are at a point now where we need to re-examine what the primary function of government should be. Many, especially friends on the right, believe that the government’s primary role is to protect the people. To them, “a proper government is only a policeman, acting as an agent of a person’s self-defense.” Maybe I’m crazy, but part of protecting me is protecting my health.

Think of parents. Among other things, parents protect their children. They protect their kids when the cross the street. They protect their kids when they tell them not to touch the stove when it’s on. They protect their kids when they put a hat on their head before they go outside. The first example is one of protecting safety. The last two are examples of protecting health. What is the purpose of a government (and by extensions, armed forces) that don’t protect me and/or my health? Maybe I have a maternalistic view of government and its role. I don’t think that when it comes to health care too many people would disagree with me (except HMOs and Bill Frist).



About Garlin Gilchrist II

I am the City of Detroit's first ever Deputy Technology Director for Civic Community Engagement. My job is to open up the city's public data and information for the consumption and benefit of all Detroiters. I currently live in Detroit, my hometown, with my beautiful wife Ellen and our twins Garlin III and Emily Grace. I'm from Detroit. I created Detroit Diaspora, and was formerly the National Campaign Director at I also co-hosted The #WinReport on "The Good Fight," a an award winning, nationally syndicated radio show that was one of Apple's Best of 2013. After graduating with degrees in Computer Engineering and Computer Science from the University of Michigan, I became a Software Engineer at Microsoft. By day, I helped build SharePoint into the fastest growth product in the company's history. On my personal time, I sought out opportunities to connect my technical skills with community building efforts across the country. This led to my co-founding The SuperSpade: Black Thought at the Highest Level, a leading Black political blog. I served as Social Media Manager for the 2008 Obama campaign in Washington, and then became Director of New Media at the Center for Community Change. I spent two years creating and implementing a strategy for the Center to take it's 40 years of community organizing experience into the digital age. I speak before diverse audiences on effective & responsive government, empowerment in revolutionary new organizing spaces, increasing civic engagement & participation through emerging technologies and protecting civil rights in the age of the Internet. Full bio here.

2 responses to “Health Care & Role of Government”

  1. David Betts says :

    I’m feeling you on the universal health care tip. However, I’m not so sure about the parents argument. I don’t think that’s exactly marketable. I don’t want to look at the government as Mom and Dad. As someone transitioning into adulthood (not because of age but because as I’m about graduate college I could be off the parental payroll in as short as a couple of months), I’m just not with the implication that I’m a stupid kid that needs to be taken care of. That’s why the electoral college is around, to make sure the poor, stupid, young, uneducated electorate doesn’t make any rash decisions.

    I’m more in favor of an approach like this: government exists as an entity that allows the all citizens to ensure the mechanisms of a society exist (or something like that, add some Aristotle, some John Locke, fix it up a bit). But if everbody is dead or about to die what the hell is the point of society at all? Just a thought.

  2. Garlin II says :

    What I mean with the parental analogy is that as a child, there are certain things you [ideally] should not have to worry about. I feel that citizens should have a set of things that they should not have to worry about. Especially in the case of health care, state-sponsored care in no way implies any inadequacy in the intelligence or responsibility of the recipients of that care. What it does mean is that your intelligence would be better spent in areas other than figuring out how to acquire access to perscription drugs.

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